Jeffrey Tucker Senior fellow at Foundation for Economic Education, CEO of Liberty.me discusses his friendship with a younger Rand Paul and his favorable support for the Senator becoming President of the United States. He also talks about the libertarian perspective regarding Ron Paul supporters and the differences of Rand Paul within the political system.
Kurt Wallace: We have a very special guest with us today on Rare. Jeffrey Tucker is the CEO of Liberty.me, he’s a Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), and the Executive Editor of Laissez-Faire Books. Jeffrey, it’s good to have you with us today.
Jeffrey Tucker: Kurt, it’s really nice to talk to you.
Kurt Wallace: Let’s talk about something that is very interesting to me. I didn’t realize this – you have known Rand Paul, pretty much, since a younger age, right?
Jeffrey Tucker: Yeah. I think we’re kind of, more or less, the same age. He might be a year or two younger than I am. But back in the day when we’d hold these sort of backyard barbecues with the Paul family when I worked as Ron’s research assistant for a year or so, they’d hold these nice backyard parties for the family and things like that. Rand -I think he was just starting medical school in those days – he would come to the house. Since we’re the same age, we had kind of a connection and we hung out together, and he really didn’t have any political aspirations yet in those days. He was just a really focused and dedicated doctor. I think his interest in politics had developed much, much later. So I feel this kind of personal connection to him and affection for him, and I feel like I’ve kind of followed his political career and his thinking as it’s kind of evolved. He watched his father very, very carefully – and learned so much – so when it came time for him to sort of fill himself into this world, he was already very sophisticated. He felt like he had already had a trial run, just from sort of having lived and breathed this environment. I think that’s one reason he’s so very good. He is, I would say, more interested in really practical ways moving forward, for the course of liberty, to the political system than his father was. His father was really a trailblazer, just getting people to talk about the subject of human liberty. He sees his role as following up on that by pushing the system as hard as he possibly can to help us see more liberty in our time. Even if it’s incremental steps, even if it’s not wholesale solutions, he would like to break down the system one piece at a time. I think he’s very clever. He’s very smart. He knows the system well. I think he believes he can work the system, and I’m very favorable towards his aspirations and I can’t help but just cheer him on. I think he’s shown a great deal of moral courage just in his time in the senate. Everyone has, so far, underestimated him. That’s a consistent thing I’ve noticed with Rand Paul – people always underestimate him, and that he amazes people. I think there’s a real chance for him to get the nomination. He’s a person of real quality, and the republicans don’t really have anyone else out there that’s like that, you know?
Kurt Wallace: Well, he brings something new. He brings a libertarian-conservative perspective to the republican party. He’s talking about civil liberties. He’s talking about growing the party. He’s appealing to what a lot of democrats have been doing over the last 20-30 years. He’s doing that, and some compare him to sort of a Ronald Reagan type of strategy in terms of growing the republican party. Libertarians, though, they’re kind of mixed on this.
Jeffrey Tucker: Well, it’s a little funny because libertarians are always sort of in favor of Ronald Reagan, actually. I remember those days – people loved Reagan. And actually, Reagan massively ballooned the budget, and Reagan was always terrible on the subject of American imperialism and war. I mean, he was just awful. It’s grim – the idea that libertarians would have liked Reagan, actually, in retrospect is a little bit crazy. Rand Paul is different. I’ve read his books, and he is very much in the tradition of – actually, is better than – Robert Taft. If you read Robert Taft’s books from the 1950’s, he’s actually not as good as you might think he should be on foreign policy issues. Rand is much, much better than probably anybody who’s been in the senate for half a century, if not a hundred years on the subject of foreign policy, and war, and trade. This is not to say that every vote is exactly what I want. It’s not to say that he’s obviously not an anarchist – I am. But, generally, he’s way better than Reagan on a whole range of issues, actually. I’ve noticed some libertarians are skeptical of Rand. I think some of this comes about from sort of a strange post-Ron Paul discouragement about the political process in general. I don’t feel that way, and here’s why. I never cared about politics, haha. I never believe that anything would come from that entire presidential move by Ron. I mean, I’ve been around too long. I see how politics entrances people and raptures people, and gives people lots of false hopes, and I never shared those false hopes. So I never went through the booms, and I’m not going through the bust, you know what I mean? Haha. So when I look at Rand I think, “You know? Politics isn’t really my bag. On the other hand, there probably is a role for a good, solid, principled statesman out there to throw wrenches into the system and mess things up a little bit. And to befuddle and confound the bureaucrats and the ‘power of we.’ And I think if there’s anybody to do that, Rand Paul seems like he’s got a pretty good grasp on how to go about that.” I don’t think that he’s the answer to all things. On the other hand, I think there is a role for politics. It’s interesting – speaking of, again, the Liberty.me space – I’m very aware that many people feel a strong pull into political activism. It’s not really my thing, but many many people do feel that. So we’ve carved out a very special space within our digital city to allow people to discuss. Not argue and beat each other up, but to discuss practical political solutions that are also part of becoming freer.
Kurt Wallace: That’s interesting. Now, is Liberty.me in the light of Hayek’s theory of social change, and bringing that about on a digital platform?
Jeffrey Tucker: You know, Hayek theory of social change – it depends on what you mean by that. Some people have real confusion about what Hayek thought that really was. I think people somehow get confused about what Hayek actually believed. I would have to say, to answer your question, yes. Provided we mean this: Hayek saw social evolution as emerging out of the discrete decisions of individuals, and their pursuit of their self-interest in their time and place. And those discrete decisions working through larger institutions that they, themselves, don’t control to create an order that’s larger and more spectacular than any individual can foresee. So, yes. I would say, in that sense, it absolutely is a Hayekian model. I mean, I can’t say for sure what the result of our experiment is going to be. To me, that’s the best thing you can say about it, actually, because I want to create a space that will allow things to emerge that are more spectacular than anything I can imagine. I’m not interested in being a central planner. I’m CEO of the company – that just means that I sort of bear responsibility when things go wrong. People are going to give me inadvertent credit when things go right. But it doesn’t mean I know everything – I don’t have all the answers. But what I want to do is create a platform where the answers can emerge spontaneously.
Kurt Wallace: Jeffrey Tucker, CEO of Liberty.me, thank you for spending time with us today on Rare.
Jeffrey Tucker: Well, you always ask wonderful questions, and it’s always very flattering to be interviewed by you, actually. Hahaha. So thank you so much Kurt. I really appreciate it.
Kurt Wallace: Thank you.